By: Sean Crose
Undefeated WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly put his title belt on the line Saturday night at the Palms Casino Resort in Vegas. The 12-0 Alimkhanuly was looking to impress, as he had indicated other champions weren’t eager to get in the ring with him. If the Kazakh native were to stand any chance of getting a big fight sooner rather than later, however, he would have to get past the 17-1-1 Denzel Bentley. The Alimkhanuly-Bentley bout was scheduled for 12 championship rounds.
Alimkhanuly worked behind his southpaw jab in the first. Bentley tried to maintain range and flick a jab of his own in the second, but wasn’t able to find much success. Alimkhanuly, meanwhile, was clearly looking for a way to land a power shot on his opponent. In the third, it appeared the Kazakh warrior was starting to land effectively on the challenger. Bentley’s problem was simple – if he wished to be more active he would make himself open to the hard hitting Alimkhanuly’s shots.
It was worth wondering by the fourth round if Bentley would be able to survive until the final bell. While he wasn’t being badly hurt, he was most certainly taking a few heavy shots without sending anything back in return. With that being said, Bentley was able to land a some nice punches of his own in the fifth. The sixth saw Alimkhanuly offering a lot of looks while continuing to look for sports to attack behind his jab. The awkward Alimkhanuly was able to land effectively in the seventh, while Bentley tried employing effective aggression.
The eighth was a tough round to judge, as each man had his moments in what was continuing to be a fast paced bout. “We gotta back this guy up,” veteran trainer Buddy McGirt said to Alimkhanuly in between rounds. Why Alimkhanuly avoided doing body work in the high octane ninth, as well as in the previous eight rounds, was a mystery. To be sure, Bentley piled on the shots in the tenth. The penultimate round was one in which Alimkhanuly picked way at Bentley from range. Bentley, however, remained competitive to the end.
In the twelfth and final round, Alimkhanuly proved he simply hit too hard for Bentley to pull out the win. Bentley stayed on his feet, but he didn’t do enough to win the round, although he certainly tried. Hurt and exhausted, Bentley spent the final round avoiding his man, then courageously confronting Alimkhanuly. Bentley’s face, however, was showing signs of a terrible beating. Suffice to say, it was no surprise when Alimkhanuly was awarded the unanimous decision victory courtesy of the ringside judges.
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